Pennsylvania Prison Society Answering Questions Related to COVID's Impact on Prisons and Jails


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If you have a question related to Coronavirus in PA prisons and jails, please refer to our FAQs below. If you do not see an answer to your question, or if you have a specific question regarding a loved one, click here.

See Below for Some Examples from Their FAQ Section

To read all their FAQs, click here.

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Is my loved one eligible to be released under the Governor's new reprieve order? As of April 28th, the Department of Corrections believed that they had identified all cases that qualified under the Governor's reprieve order, despite the fact that they did not reduce its population as much as originally projected. As of May 5, 130 people have been released under the order.

The Prison Society is encouraging the Department of Corrections to explore other mechanisms to reduce its population.

A full copy of the order can be found here.

The Governor’s reprieve order only applies to people in state prisons (the SCIs) who are eligible for release within the next 12 months, or who are within 9 months of their minimum date. They must also fall into one of the following categories:

- People over 50

- People with chronic medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, cancer, or asthma

- Pregnant people

The order does not apply to most (but not all) people convicted of a sex offenses, a crime in which a person was injured or a gun was used. There are a variety of other requirements related to conduct in prison and other matters.

If my loved one doesn't qualify under the Governor's reprieve order, are there other ways for them to be released due to the COVID-19 health crisis?

If your loved one is incarcerated in a county jail: Early release policies are being developed in several counties. Call your county's public defender to get specific information on your jurisdiction. If you are having trouble reaching your county defender, or have not heard back, please let us know. f you are in Philadelphia, the Defenders' Association has set up a form to request assistance electronically. That form can be found here.

You can find the contact information for the Public Defender's office in your county here.

If your loved one is incarcerated in an SCI: Contact the local defender's office in the county in which your loved one was convicted. If you are concerned about the health status of a loved one, please email our Prison Monitoring Director at jalvarez@prisonsociety.org.

What happens if my loved one is awaiting a court date? Contact your defenders' office in the county where your loved one is scheduled to appear in court to find out what court hearings are still occuring and what delays should be anticipated. If you need help contacting a defense attorney or if you are not hearing back, please let us know.

If the case you are concerned about is in Philadelphia County, the Defenders' Association has set up a form to request assistance electronically. That form can be found here.

You can find the contact information for the Public Defender's office in your county here.

To read all their FAQs, click here.